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HISTORY

       Principal photography began 20 Sep 1976 in Chicago, IL, then moved to Norfolk and Richmond, VA, the 18 Oct 1976 Box reported. Filming at Richmond’s Kings Dominion amusement park, which began 22 Sep 1976, lasted three weeks, according to the 22 Sep 1976 Var. The 14 Oct 1976 Virginia Pilot reported that Universal Pictures spent $150,000 and four weeks of preliminary work fixing Norfolk's sixty-year-old Ocean View Amusement Park and refurbishing its aging “Rocket” rollercoaster, as well as constructing a balsa-wood breakaway building for a derailment crash scene on 31 Oct 1976. During the shoot, a stunt man and stunt woman were injured, the 1 Nov 1976 issues of HR and DV noted. On 19 Nov 1976, five days of location photography began at Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA, in which 900 extras were used, according to the 13 Dec 1976 Box.
       The film cost $9 million, as stated in the 22 May 1977 LAT. Rollercoaster was Universal Pictures’ third film made with Sensurround® sound, a multi-track system using extra theater speakers, as well as the first film whose musical score was also recorded in Sensurround®. Universal’s two earlier films were Earthquake (1974, see entry) and Midway (1976, see entry). Composer Lalo Shifrin conducted an eighty-eight-piece symphony orchestra for Rollercoaster, the 25 Mar 1977 HR and 11 Apr 1977 Box noted. Along with the film’s dramatic score and amusement park background music, Shiflin had to create Sensurround® effects. Rollercoaster was also released with regular sound for theaters not equipped with Sensurround®.
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       Principal photography began 20 Sep 1976 in Chicago, IL, then moved to Norfolk and Richmond, VA, the 18 Oct 1976 Box reported. Filming at Richmond’s Kings Dominion amusement park, which began 22 Sep 1976, lasted three weeks, according to the 22 Sep 1976 Var. The 14 Oct 1976 Virginia Pilot reported that Universal Pictures spent $150,000 and four weeks of preliminary work fixing Norfolk's sixty-year-old Ocean View Amusement Park and refurbishing its aging “Rocket” rollercoaster, as well as constructing a balsa-wood breakaway building for a derailment crash scene on 31 Oct 1976. During the shoot, a stunt man and stunt woman were injured, the 1 Nov 1976 issues of HR and DV noted. On 19 Nov 1976, five days of location photography began at Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA, in which 900 extras were used, according to the 13 Dec 1976 Box.
       The film cost $9 million, as stated in the 22 May 1977 LAT. Rollercoaster was Universal Pictures’ third film made with Sensurround® sound, a multi-track system using extra theater speakers, as well as the first film whose musical score was also recorded in Sensurround®. Universal’s two earlier films were Earthquake (1974, see entry) and Midway (1976, see entry). Composer Lalo Shifrin conducted an eighty-eight-piece symphony orchestra for Rollercoaster, the 25 Mar 1977 HR and 11 Apr 1977 Box noted. Along with the film’s dramatic score and amusement park background music, Shiflin had to create Sensurround® effects. Rollercoaster was also released with regular sound for theaters not equipped with Sensurround®.
       The 14 Mar 1977 DV detailed how Universal bought advertising and booked theaters for an opening date for the film before there was a script or a director in place. When James Goldstone was hired in Mar 1976, he was given the task of having the film completed and ready for exhibition on 17 Jun 1977. The film's official opening was 20 Jun 1977.
       The “Rocket” rollercoaster in Norfolk's Ocean View Amusement Park was later destroyed in a 1979 ABC-Television movie called The Death of Ocean View Park.

      End credits contain the following written acknowledgement: “The producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Ocean View Amusement Park, Kings Dominion, Magic Mountain.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Sep 1976.
---
Box Office
18 Oct 1976.
---
Box Office
25 Oct 1976.
---
Box Office
6 Dec 1976.
---
Box Office
13 Dec 1976.
---
Box Office
11 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1976.
---
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1977.
---
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1977
p. 2, 15.
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1976
Section F, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1977
Section X, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jun 1977
Section H, p. 1.
New York Times
11 Jun 1977
p. 12.
The Virginia Pilot
14 Oct 1976
Section B, p. 1.
Variety
22 Sep 1976.
---
Variety
27 Apr 1977
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Jennings Lang Production
A Link & Levinson/Goldstone Presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
Suggested by a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Sensurround® mus eff comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title & opt eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Stars And Stripes Forever," music by John Philip Sousa.
SONGS
"Fill 'Er Up," music and lyrics by Ron Mael, performed by Sparks
"Big Boy," music and lyrics by Ron Mael, performed by Sparks
"Hello! Ma Baby," by Joseph E. Howard, Ida Emerson and Louis Singer
+
SONGS
"Fill 'Er Up," music and lyrics by Ron Mael, performed by Sparks
"Big Boy," music and lyrics by Ron Mael, performed by Sparks
"Hello! Ma Baby," by Joseph E. Howard, Ida Emerson and Louis Singer
"Wait 'Till The Sun Shines, Nellie," music by Harry von Tilzer, lyrics by Andrew B. Sterling.
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PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 April 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 June 1977
Production Date:
20 September--late November 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, LLLP
Copyright Date:
10 June 1977
Copyright Number:
LP50045
Physical Properties:
Sound
Sensurround®
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
119
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A young man looks through binoculars at a ride inspector walking the tracks of “The Rocket,” a rollercoaster at Ocean View Amusement Park near Los Angeles, California. The next morning, as the park comes to life, the young man is dressed in a park uniform as he climbs up the rollercoaster tracks and plants a small, remote-controlled bomb. Benny Nielson, an elderly park custodian, shouts up to him, thinking the young man is the regular inspector, Wayne Moore. That evening, the young man returns to Ocean View with a transmitter and sets off his device, breaking the track. Moments later, several cars fly into the busy park below and kill several people. Harry Calder gets a telephone call from Simon Davenport, his boss at the Department of Standards and Safety, and hurries to Ocean Park. As Harry arrives, he finds Benny sitting outside the park office, shaking his head, saying the accident should not have happened because he saw Wayne Moore on the tracks at ten o’clock that morning. Inside the office, however, Wayne tells Harry he always inspects the tracks between seven and eight. Meanwhile, the young man arrives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and within hours, fire trucks rush to the local Wonderworld amusement park. The next day, Harry sees a headline about the Wonderworld fire in a newspaper and suspects it is related to the rollercoaster accident. After Harry tells Jackie, his secretary, to telephone the companies that own Wonderworld and Ocean Park, she reports that both chief executive officers are on their way to the Hotel Regency in Chicago, Illinois. Harry flies to Chicago, where five amusement park owners are meeting to discuss a ransom demand ... +


A young man looks through binoculars at a ride inspector walking the tracks of “The Rocket,” a rollercoaster at Ocean View Amusement Park near Los Angeles, California. The next morning, as the park comes to life, the young man is dressed in a park uniform as he climbs up the rollercoaster tracks and plants a small, remote-controlled bomb. Benny Nielson, an elderly park custodian, shouts up to him, thinking the young man is the regular inspector, Wayne Moore. That evening, the young man returns to Ocean View with a transmitter and sets off his device, breaking the track. Moments later, several cars fly into the busy park below and kill several people. Harry Calder gets a telephone call from Simon Davenport, his boss at the Department of Standards and Safety, and hurries to Ocean Park. As Harry arrives, he finds Benny sitting outside the park office, shaking his head, saying the accident should not have happened because he saw Wayne Moore on the tracks at ten o’clock that morning. Inside the office, however, Wayne tells Harry he always inspects the tracks between seven and eight. Meanwhile, the young man arrives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and within hours, fire trucks rush to the local Wonderworld amusement park. The next day, Harry sees a headline about the Wonderworld fire in a newspaper and suspects it is related to the rollercoaster accident. After Harry tells Jackie, his secretary, to telephone the companies that own Wonderworld and Ocean Park, she reports that both chief executive officers are on their way to the Hotel Regency in Chicago, Illinois. Harry flies to Chicago, where five amusement park owners are meeting to discuss a ransom demand for $1 million. As they listen to an audio cassette tape from the bomber, the young man himself, dressed as a hotel employee, comes into the room with complimentary coffee. He plants a microphone in a lampshade and leaves just as Harry arrives at the door. Harry tells the owners he knows what is going on, and if they do not talk with him, he will call the police and the Tribune. Listening to the young man’s demands, Harry warns the owners to take the bomber seriously. Instead of paying the bomber off, they should call the FBI. From another wing of the hotel, the young man watches with binoculars and listens to the conversation. When FBI agent Thomas Hoyt and two of his men arrive in Chicago, Harry meets them at the airport and fills them in during the ride to the hotel, but Hoyt dismisses Harry in the lobby and tells him to go home. The young man sits nearby, watching. When Harry returns to Los Angeles, the young man telephones and says that Harry should take a vacation to Virginia. Ten minutes later, Hoyt and his agents arrive to tell Harry that the bomber asked for him to deliver ransom money at Kings Dominion Park in Richmond, Virginia. Hoyt believes there is a relationship between Harry and the bomber, but the agent nonetheless gives Harry a plane ticket. After the agents leave, the young man calls to thank Harry for being the only person in that Chicago hotel room who did not underestimate him. At Kings Dominion Park, agents put a microphone on Harry, give him a brown suitcase the bomber had sent to them, and fill it with $1 million for an 11:30 rendezvous at a public telephone. Hoyt says the bomber will run him around the park until he can “make the switch” using a matching suitcase, but Harry will be under constant surveillance. When the call comes, the young man tells Harry to go to a certain stand, buy a hat, and have his name stitched on it. Also, Harry must remove the microphone and do what the caller says, because there is a bomb in the park. After Harry removes the microphone, an agent nearby tells him to take off his sunglasses the moment he makes the switch. After Harry buys his hat, a delivery boy approaches with a package; inside are a two-way radio and written instructions to go to the Vertigo ride and turn the radio on. As soon as Harry turns on the radio, the young man sends him on a series of rides around the park, including the “Rebel Yell,” the park’s rollercoaster. Finally, as Harry rides a solitary cable car on the Skyway, the young man tells him the radio is also a bomb. The young man orders Harry to get off the Skyway and give his backup signal to the agents for the switch. If the young man does not see agents rushing in, he will blow Harry up. As Harry leaves the Skyway, he removes his sunglasses, and Hoyt gives the word for the agents to close in. Following the young man's instructions, Harry walks away and leaves the suitcase on a bench while the agents are diverted. When Harry looks back moments later, the suitcase is gone. Later that night, the young man sneaks into a police station vehicle yard and retrieves the suitcase from beneath the department’s bomb squad van. Back in Los Angeles, Harry gets a call from the bomber, who is irate because he asked for unmarked bills. He complains that the FBI dusted the money with powder visible under ultraviolet light and claims he will not call again, but promises that Harry and Hoyt will hear about him soon. Harry telephones Hoyt in Washington, D.C., to relay the message. Harry tells Hoyt that Magic Mountain near Los Angeles is opening its “Great American Revolution” on the Fourth of July, just a day or two away. He reckons that the bomber will capitalize on all the publicity and try to blow it up. Also, Harry’s name is on Revolution’s public-record permit as the safety inspector, so the bomber may use the opportunity to get back at him. On the Fourth of July, Hoyt and his men drive Harry to the park. When Harry informs bomb squad members of the best places to plant a bomb, they dress as park employees and walk the tracks, wrapping bunting as a ruse, in case the bomber is watching. The police find a bomb and begin to defuse it, but when the young man sees several men walking on the tracks, he takes out his detonator and pushes a button. Fortunately, a bomb specialist snips a wire and renders the bomb harmless. Angry, the bomber gets his hand stamped and hurries to his car in the parking lot, where he assembles another small bomb and takes it back into Magic Mountain. He pays $100 to a hippie for his “gold ticket” on the Revolution’s first ride, gets on the rollercoaster, and slips the bomb under his seat. When the ride ends, television and radio reporters interview the exiting “survivors,” and as the young man speaks a few words, Harry recognizes his voice. He chases the bomber through the crowd, as agents follow. Realizing the bomber was on the rollercoaster, which has already started its next ride, Hoyt tells his radio technician to jam all frequencies. When the young man presses his detonator, nothing happens. He tries to escape across the rollercoaster tracks, but one of the cars hits him at high speed.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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